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Medicaid, the Government Assistance Program That Keeps on Giving

The US is infamous for its incredibly costly healthcare, and it’s not uncommon for low-income residents to refuse care in order to prevent themselves from going into debt that they can’t possibly repay.

However, things have improved tremendously ever since the COVID-19 pandemic affected the amount of government spending, allowing these healthcare programs to prosper and give low-income Americans a chance at affordable treatment.

At the time, Medicaid is providing care to more than 90 million low-income Americans, which might change if the states go through with the unwinding of the provisions that were put in place in the early stages of the pandemic.

Keep reading to find out how Medicaid works, what the government is doing to make sure support for those who need it is continued, and what the eligibility requirements are if you were to apply for benefits.

How does it work

Being the leading program for providing health care to low-income Americans, Medicaid is one of the few effective solutions to the expensive US healthcare system.

The program offers coverage for what is essentially one in every 5 American residents, which also applies to those with complex needs for care, usually those tied to a hefty price.

It is also the main source of long-term care for US residents, and it’s the go-to program for senior citizens whose retirement savings aren’t capable of handling the costs of their health-related needs.

On top of this, the state and federal spending for Medicaid amounted to nearly a fifth of all the personal healthcare spending in the US, including significant amounts of funding for hospitals, licensed physicians, care centers, and nursing homes for the elderly.

This way, the government can ensure that the needs of every US resident are met when it comes to health care, no matter their income level.

Why is it so important

In general, Medicaid focuses on providing care for those who need it the most, and in the past couple of years alone, it’s been a source of coverage for certain populations in the US.

Most notably, Medicaid offered health care coverage for 4 out of 10 children and 8 out of 10 children experiencing poverty, as well as one in every 6 adults and 5 out of 10 adults in poverty.

However, if you look at additional data, you may find that Medicaid coverage is much more present in Black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities, while also being the main source for non-elderly disabled Americans, those being defined as persons dealing with a minimum of one difficulty related to hearing, sight or cognitive abilities.

If that wasn’t enough, 41% of all births in the US are covered by Medicaid, and had it not been for the program, millions of low-income Americans would be in unimaginable amounts of debt.


While it’s not limited to the elderly, one in every 5 applicants for Medicaid is a person at or above the age of 65, and the amount of spending that goes towards these applicants’ needs is proportional to the greater costs tied to them.

That being said, every state will define the upper and lower spending limits per applicant, meaning that you may want to apply in a different state if you feel your current location is preventing you from getting the care you need.

The main criteria for eligibility are the applicant’s income level, and while it can vary based on the state you’re applying in, it’s a general rule of thumb that your net income must put you at or below the federal poverty guidelines.

Certain other criteria go into determining an applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid, including their citizenship status, as the program is only available to US residents and legal immigrants.

How to apply

One of the benefits of Medicaid is the fact that it’s a year-round program, and you can apply at any given time, although you will have to be a resident of the state where you’re applying.

You can begin your application by creating an online account at the Health Insurance Marketplace, where you can also fill out an application for the program, meaning that you’ll need to provide certain personal information about yourself and other residents of your household.

If the agency determines that any member of your household is eligible for Medicaid support, your application will then be forwarded to your state’s administering agency, after which you’ll be contacted about enrollment into the program.

Final word

Medicaid is the main source of healthcare coverage for the majority of low-income Americans and it may just be the thing that wipes away the stigma about the American health care system.

With access to affordable care all year round, elderly and low-income American residents can rest easy, knowing that they will receive care that won’t put a sizeable dent in their wallets.